Accessibility Gone Awry

A firefighter friend once told me that the state required that a concrete ramp be installed at the fire station entrance (where there were a few stair steps) in order to provide access to handicapped firefighters.


I have commented before in this blog that I thought that gas pumps are some of the worst designed pieces of technology and user interface ever. Somehow gas pump designers can’t seem to get it right. The devices look nice, but functionally they are often abominations.

To illustrate my point, check out the picture below. Notice anything funny?

Look at the display and keypad at the red arrow. It is an ATM-like device, with a nice screen, a keypad and a card reader below it. It is surrounded by a thick black protruding frame, presumably to keep the glare of the sun out. Often it is difficult to read the LCD displays in bright light.

What is wrong with this picture? you might ask at this point.

Well, the end of the red arrow is about at the height of my belly button when I stand in front of the pump. The entire screen is shielded by the black frame from my point of view. Ok, I am 6’1″, not on the short side, but also not exceedingly tall. There are only two ways for me to actually operate this pump by using this screen:

1. I kneel in front of it. Not recommended on the hard and dirty concrete of a gas station.

2. I step back, bend over, bump with my rear into my car behind me, kink my neck  up so I can read the text with my bifocals. If you saw me from behind the car, I would look like this profile:

This is a very uncomfortable position to be in. It gives me a kink in the neck.

I am sure that a display at 4 feet off the ground is great for a guy coming up to the pump in a wheelchair. But it makes no sense for the rest of us able-bodied users.

Accessibility regulations gone awry, badly.

I have seen just about as many people pump gas in a wheelchair as I have seen firefighters in wheelchairs.

Still waiting for the first one.

2 thoughts on “Accessibility Gone Awry

  1. wiz

    That appears to be a fake card reader designed to cause people to put their cards and pin in the machine so the information can be skimmed.

    1. Not really. Of course, this was now 6 years ago. But I remember that the entire gas station was outfitted with these machines. They were all brand-new. No tampering. I know what a skimmer looks like – this was not one of them. But I do no longer remember where this gas station was so I can’t go back and check.

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